Just for Clem

After a brief hiatus of just a year, during which time nothing at all has happened, I am returning to share important news.

I have an itchy boob.

Why? Because I put a 50 cent coin in my bra. I forgot about it. I went to work. And then, somehow, it remained stuck to my skin overnight, to be discovered only the next morning.

When it was peeled off, it left behind a nice, grey, coin-shaped mark, which fairly quickly turned into a red, lumpy coin-shaped rash.

Now, several days later, it’s a red, lumpy, insanely itchy coin-shaped rash.

Moral of the story? Don’t put stuff you’re allergic to down your bra.

Now come back in a year for more interesting news. Or maybe visit clem’s blog, which is updated regularly.

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Yep, more about the wedding

Because I know you want a pictorial step-by-step, don’t you?

Setting up the night before. These pics were taken at about 9pm. We’d had help the day before to set up the tables (though we moved just about all of them again after everyone left because, you know, we have to do everything our own way). We’d put on the chair covers earlier in the day but the chairs needed to be leaned up against the tables to stop all the neighbourhood cats sleeping on them. It was windy and they all fell down so we had to take off the covers and try again after the kids were in bed that night:

 

Getting the flowers ready. The day before the wedding was ridiculously hot, and the only room in the house with air conditioning is Hugo’s (it was our loungeroom prior to our extension being built) so all the flowers stayed in his room in air conditioned luxury and all the people sweltered in the rest of the house. We put the flowers out before we left for the ceremony but ended up sending them back to the air con at the last minute because they were starting to droop. We had someone put them out again just before the reception started.

Leigh made the bouquets and the garland for Hunter’s hair the morning of the ceremony – not like there was anything else to do.

The cake. Originally leigh had wanted to make the cake, but I pestered her long and hard about outsourcing the job. She ignored my pleas but caved instantly when her SIL made the same suggestion! Ah well, got the desired outcome and a beautiful cake.

It was made by a friend of a friend, who has just started a cake decorating business. The design is ours, based on a cobbled-together collection of things we liked about four or five different cakes we’d seen on the net.

The tables. Our agenda for the day allowed one hour for the final table set up. Theoretically, all we needed to do on the morning was put on the tables cloths and runners, set out the glassware and candles, and put out the flowers, bombonieres and other bits and pieces.

Instead, we discovered that the ‘fitted’ chair covers we’d ordered were really not that fitted, and would probably result in a lot of tangles on the night, so leigh spent an hour or so turning an old lace curtain into sashes for the chairs while I got the rest of the table set up done, then we both frantically tied on all the sashes. We were a good half hour behind schedule by the time we were done, which caused a few issues when we both had to shower at the same time (in separate bathrooms!) because we only had one razor!

But we were so happy with the way it looked. We ordered the table cloths and the navy satin runners from the hire place. Leigh made the lace runners that went over the top, and wrapped the ribbons around the vases. She also made the placecards, and even wrapped the matchboxes (for lighting the 100 votives) with paper matching our invitations. These pics were taken before the vases were removed to spare the poor wilting flowers – and before the chocolates went out on each place setting.

It’s hard to see, but each person got a giftboxed pen and there were little stacks of paper for people to write funny poems which were read out later in the night.

I’m hoping to put up the blow by blow of the actual ceremony and reception over the next few days!

 

 

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Our ceremony

I.                    GATHERING WORDS
Welcome! Good afternoon, family and friends
We have come here today to celebrate as
Kendi and Leigh declare their commitment before those closest to them.

On behalf of Kendi and Leigh, I thank you for joining us.
They are delighted that you have chosen to spend this special day with them.

By your presence, you celebrate with them and show your support for their decision to commit themselves to a lifelong relationship.

Those of you who have known Leigh and Kendi for a long time will know that they have been together now for over nine years. You may be wondering why they did not conduct this ceremony sooner.

The truth is: they’ve been waiting. Waiting for the day when legislation would catch up with community sentiment and allow them the legal union that is available to most of you here today.

But time marches on, and eventually they decided to stop waiting. They still believe the day will come when they will be legally wed, but in the meantime, they have decided not to let a small impediment like a lack of legal recognition stop them from having the wedding they want and declaring their commitment publicly.

If you have not already done so, please put on the white knot you were handed by Hunter on arriving here today. The white knot symbolises the fight for marriage equality. By wearing the white knot you are declaring your support for this cause – the right for everyone to marry the person of their choosing.

While the union you bear witness to today will not carry the legal weight of marriage, I know you all understand that it reflects a true and abiding commitment. By making this public declaration of that commitment today, Leigh and Kendi’s relationship
will become stronger, better, and deeper.

Today, Kendi and Leigh demonstrate their devotion to each other
By dedicating themselves to a life together
And they show their respect for each other
By setting forth to honour the vows they have created
Today, their lives, which began on separate paths, will be joined as one

II. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF FAMILY & FRIENDS

Leigh and Kendi would like to acknowledge their families.
They offer their profound gratitude
For their unconditional gifts of love and support.

They are fortunate to share this day with their families, and with their friends from near and far.

They ask that you open your hearts and minds
to the love we are here to share through this ceremony

 

111. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF CHILDREN

Kendi and Leigh also acknowledge their beautiful children, Hunter and Hugo, whose presence in their lives fills them with the kind of love that the parents among you know is impossible to capture in words.

One of Leigh and Kendi’s greatest shared hopes is to be the best parents they can possibly be, and as they commit to each other today, so too Kendi and Leigh commit to their children.

Parenting together, they aim to raise children who are mindful, kind and responsible. Who understand the value of human relationships, the beauty of nature and the unbreakable bonds of family.

Their dreams for their children are big – they believe they can be whatever they want to be. And yet their dreams are simple, too. Whatever brings their children happiness is all their parents wish for them.

Hunter and Hugo, thank you for being such an important part of your mummies’ day. And for being so cute!

 

IV. COMMITMENT ADDRESS
Deep abiding affection,
the magical and compelling shared impulse
that makes us seek each other’s company,
is among the greatest gifts of the human experience.

Any of us who has been fortunate enough to find and express
the kind of loving devotion that we are celebrating here today
knows that it is an awesome and beautiful thing.

This understanding brings me to the first of three suggestions
I will offer to you, Leigh and Kendi:
be constantly grateful for the presence of this precious person
who has chosen to make a life with you.

My second suggestion is this:
Make each other the recipient of daily kindness.
The world can be a tough place
and any of us can be subject to rough handling.
Be generous with compliments.
Be attentive and helpful.
Each of you can, by your tenderness toward each other,
kind words and thoughtful actions,
make your partnership and your home an uplifting refuge.

Last, but perhaps most importantly:
make truth the unfailing bedrock of your lives together.
A solid relationship is built on a foundation of trust and respect.
That trust and respect can only be sustained
if you are both deeply committed to being open and truthful
in every exchange no matter how small.

My hope for you is this:
that you have many long years to delight in each other’s company,
to feel gratitude for your great good fortune
in having found and loved each other,
to a make home together that is at once sheltering and welcoming,
to each do meaningful, productive work at home and in the world
and to love and be loved by the friends and family
who have come here today to support you

V. GROUP DECLARATION OF SUPPORT
Now, I ask you, friends and family of Kendi and Leigh, to acknowledge them, as they acknowledge you

As family and friends,
You form a community of support
That surrounds Kendi and Leigh

Each of you, by your presence here today
Is being called upon
To uphold them in loving each other

Always stand beside them, never between them
Offer them your love and your support
Not your judgment

Encourage them when encouragement is needed
And listen to them when they ask for advice

In these ways, you can honor this union
Into which they have come to be joined today

Do you offer your love and support
To strengthen their union and honour their family?

Please answer by saying : WE DO

[Guests: WE DO]

Thank you.

I call now on Kendi’s sister, Shannon, to share a reading with you.

 

SHANNON: It was difficult to select a reading that felt appropriate for this occasion. Something that reflected the seriousness and solemnity of the event. I scoured the works of the classic poets, pored through the volumes of timeless literature and consulted learned friends. And, eventually, I settled on this piece by one of the greatest writers of our times – Dr Seuss.

(reading: Oh, the places you’ll go)

 

Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

Any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the ones who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

As you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

With many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step

Step with care and great tact

And remember that Life’s

A Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dextrous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ per cent guaranteed)

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So….get on your way!

 

VI. STATEMENT OF INTENT

Leigh and Kendi, do you, with family and friends as your witnesses,
Present yourselves willingly and of your own accord?

[K&L: WE DO]

Will you promise to care for each other in the joys and sorrows of life,
Come what may,
And to share the responsibility for growth and enrichment of your life together?

[K&L: WE WILL]

Then please turn to each other and share the vows you have written.

VII. VOWS

[Leigh’s vows:]

Kendi, I love you because you are my friend. You support me to achieve the things that are important to me. Like when I was studying to become a teacher you tried to help me write my essay. In the end you got frustrated and just wrote it yourself.

I love you because are my companion. You never pressure me to go clubbing. Instead you would rather spend the evening at home with me with a roast and The Bill.

I love you because you are a caring and patient mother to our children. Like the day when you discovered Hugo had done a poo in the corner of the room at playgroup. You were still able to laugh about it with me at the end of the day.

I love you because you have the most beautiful pale blue Dowdell eyes.

I love you because you aren’t happy to compromise. You challenge what I think. You make me consider viewpoints that aren’t the status quo. You make me face up to life’s realities.

I love you because we make a good team. We have bought and sold houses together. Studied degrees together. Against the odds we have two children.

 

Kendi, because I love you I promise to treat you with the respect you deserve. I promise to build trust in our relationship with what I do and say. I will do my best to support you to achieve the things in life that bring you happiness. When life challenges us I will focus on the fact that what we have together is special and enduring.

Because  I love you, today I promise you that though the world may change and though we may change with it, I will always love you, treasure you and share my life and all that I am with you.

[Kendi’s Vows:]

 

Leigh, I love you because you make me a better person. You have so much faith in my abilities, and you don’t let me just take the easy way out, like the time I wanted to drop a uni subject but instead you packed me off to the library every afternoon till my assignment was finished.

 

I love you because are brave. You accept whatever the universe throws at you and you never make excuses. You focus on today and never give in to fear of tomorrow. You are determined to pursue your dreams and live your life, whatever challenges fall your way.

 

I love you because you are an amazing parent. Our children are learning so much from you that they would never learn from me. Like what different plants are and how to fix things. And how to cook and clean.

 

I love you because you are dedicated. You never do anything by halves and when you set your mind to something, you simply make it happen.

 

I love you because you’ve seen me at my worst, and you like me anyway. I know that

you’re on my side, no matter what.

 

 

Leigh, because I love you, I promise to stand beside you all the rest of my days. I

promise to always look for ways to build our relationship, strengthen our bond and continue to grow together. I promise to show you love, respect and compassion, and to pursue your happiness with as much vigour as much as I pursue my own.

Because I love you, today I promise you that though the world may change and though we may change with it, I will always love you, treasure you and share my life and all that I am with you.

 

VIII. RING EXCHANGE
For thousands of years,
Lovers have exchanged rings as a token of their vows
Let these rings be a sign that love has a past, a present, and a future
Through you and within you

Hugo, may we please have the rings?

Leigh, take Kendi’s ring and place it on her finger and repeat after me:

I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you
To be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you

Kendi, take Leigh’s ring and place it on her finger and repeat after me:

I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you
To be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you

 

IX. SECULAR HANDFASTING
Kendi, now take Leigh’s hands palms up,
so you may see the gift that they are to you:

These are the hands of your best friend, strong and vibrant with love,
that are holding yours on this day,
as she promises to love you all the days of her life.

Now Leigh, please take Kendi’s hands, palms up,
so you may see the gift that they are to you:

These are the hands of your best friend, steady and constant with love,
that are holding yours on this day,
as she promises to love you all the days of her life.

Now, please join hands so that they may be fasted in the ways of old.
Remember then as your hands are fasted, these are not the ties that bind…

[Cords are held aloft]

The love already shared by your hearts
Has been strengthened by the vows you have taken
You will be bound by your love as you are bound by your clasped hands
From now until the end of your days

[As the following is recited, the couple’s hands are wrapped with cords]

These are the hands that will love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as you build your future together

These are the hands that will hold you whenever illness, fear, or grief may find you.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children

These are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours

[Binding is finished and cords are knotted]
May they always reach out with love, gentleness, and respect.
May they build a loving relationship that lasts a lifetime.
May they always be held by one another.

If you follow these words and heed this binding,
your hands will heal, protect, shelter, and guide.

Now, I will remove the cords,
but remember the knot as a lasting symbol of your binding commitment

[Cords are removed stowed]

X. PRONOUNCEMENT
Leigh and Kendi, we have heard your promise to share your lives.
We recognise and respect the vows you have made here this day
Before each one of us as a witness.

In the honesty and sincerity of what you have said and done here today,
It is my honour and delight to declare you unlawfully wed!

You may seal your vows with a kiss

XI. BENEDICTION
Now, may the love that has brought you together
Continue to grow and enrich your lives
May you meet with courage the problems that arise to challenge you
And may your relationship always be one of love and trust.

May the happiness you share today be with you always
And may every word you have pledged here be a living truth in your lives.

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A thousand words

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Five

Yesterday Hunter turned five.

It was such a bittersweet milestone that I can actually feel the tears stinging my eyes just typing that. The years have sped by at an unthinkable pace, and she’s becoming more and more grown up and independent every day.

That’s a good thing, of course, but there’s a little slightly panicked voice in my head wondering if I have given her enough love and attention and whether I’ve been a good enough mummy, because soon she’ll be off to school and our time together will be so much more limited :(

So, yeah, yesterday was kind of sad for me – especially the bit at the school orientation where the deputy principal encouraged us to ‘enjoy your children for the next couple of months’. It really reinforced that end-of-an-era feeling and I could have just burst into tears right there. I am going to be absolutely hopeless when she actually does start school.

Meanwhile, she had an utterly fabulous day.

Leigh picked up croissants from the bakery and we all sat outside in the sunshine for breakfast and presents. Then we took Hugo to daycare and we three gals went off to the last orientation session at school.

When that was done, we took Hunter to have her ears pierced. She’s been asking for a very long time but we’ve been putting her off. Fifth birthday seemed like a good time, though.

She was a total trooper during the actual piercing, which is more than I can say for myself. I was horribly nervous and twitchy about paying someone to inflict pain on my baby. And she was so shocked by it, poor sweetie. She sat stock still while they did it and didn’t shed a tear but as soon as I said it was over and it was okay she fell apart in my arms.

Then the girl who did it realised she hadn’t put the backs of the earrings into the gun, and had to manually put them on Hunter’s poor hurting ears. I could have killed her. It’s not like an earring has 200 components to keep track of, you know?

Lunch at our favourite yum cha place was fair reward for Hunter’s bravery and she loved not having to share with her brother. She was disappointed though that there were no Shush Up Noodles (our name for fried noodles – because they’re a sure fire way to get the kids to shut.up. Kids think that’s what they’re really called).

Hunter and I spent a nice afternoon together at home then we had a roast dinner followed by ice cream cake.

Hunter declared it to be the best birthday ever, and much as I felt like crying half the day I confess I had a great time, too. It was so nice to have a whole day to focus on my girl. Life’s so busy that I sometimes don’t even notice how clever and funny and thoughtful and all round amazing she is. Five years of Hunter is a pretty incredible five years.

 

 

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Getting there

It’s a week and a half till W day. I am not quite sure how that happened. (It’s also ONE DAY until Hunter turns five, and I am entirely baffled as to how that happened!)

I’m actually feeling like we’re starting to just about, sort of, almost get organised. We met with the photographer on Sunday and managed to have a detailed shot list and selection of ‘like this please’ pics to share with her. We’re meeting with our celebrant this weekend for a full walk through of the ceremony (possibly minus the vows, which still languish on the to-do list).

I’ve put together a very detailed and somewhat bridezilla run sheet covering the period from Thursday morning till the end of the whole shindig on the Saturday night. It includes instructions like

“DO NOT GIVE THE CHILDREN RED FIZZY DRINK BEFORE PEOPLE ARRIVE FOR THE RECEPTION”

and

“PLEASE DO NOT TAKE DRINKS FROM THE FRIDGE AND LEAVE YOUR USED GLASSES ON OUR PAINSTAKINGLY LAID OUT TABLES BEFORE GUESTS ARRIVE”

I think leigh thinks those instructions are a bit rude. I think her father’s going to be around making a mess and getting the kids hopped up on junk before the reception even kicks off, so I don’t care if it’s rude.

What else? We’ve finally finalised the final numbers. We still never did hear back from my ‘friend’ but feel comfortable assigning her a No. Her husband’s still on my Facebook friends list and I am debating whether or not to ditch him.

Not because I’d actually like to keep him on there, but because I would be disappointed to think I dramatically dumped him from the list and he didn’t even notice. I was hoping facebook might have a feature where you could pretend to dump friends then secretly watch their page to see if they write anything mean about you, but apparently not. (yes, I do need to get a life :))

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve given final numbers to the caterer. We’re intentionally overcatering by a fair number because we know we’ll have a lot of family back the next day to help clean up the debris (you reading this family? you’re coming back to cleeeaaan)

One small hitch with the caterer – they arrive four hours before service of the main meal. Which is right about the time of our ceremony. So we’ll have to let them come in while we’re not here.

This makes me nervous, not because I’m worried about them being in the house. I’m fairly stupidly trusting in that respect. But I don’t trust a professional catering company to set themselves up in the exact manner I had imagined without me being here to fret and stage manage. What if they make a decision that is not identical to the one I would have made? What if something moderately unexpected happens?

Okay, okay, I think I just need to let that one go. There’s not much I can do about it, short of ducking home between “I do” and “you may kiss the bride” to check the location of the gravy jug.

Things still on the to do list are some minor things, like adding a cake knife to the hire list, and some more significant things, like the aforementioned vows and finding an MC. Oh, and I still need to have my dress altered and leigh needs to actually find a bra to wear.

Okay, talking about the to do list is making me nervous.

There is so much else going on that life is just insanely busy and getting even the smallest thing crossed off the list is a big ask. Tonight I need to stitch ribbons and sequins onto Hunter’s tutu for her ballet dress rehearsal tomorrow. I also need to get an ad booked for preschool, write up the minutes from the playgroup AGM and try to put this bomb site of a house back together.

Tomorrow we go from school orientation to birthday lunch for Hunter to ballet rehearsal to trying to get a roast dinner cooked for us plus grandma and grandpa. It’s just a typical day. There’s not a day in the week with just one activity planned.

Anyway, it’s all good. I am getting lots of work done late at night and in the early hours of morning and I have a couple of hours of sleep pencilled in for mid-January.

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Falling to pieces

The guest list is just about signed off – we have just one couple still to chase, and then our numbers are final.

Leigh’s and my former closest friends are both on the ‘no’ list. Leigh’s former bestie waited till two days past the RSVP date then sent a long and disingenuous message about how honoured they were to be invited and how sorry they were that they had decided not to come. My former bestie did not make any reply at all.

So that’s that, and we’re both kind of relieved. They were friendships that had been moving in different directions for various reasons and we feel like these snubs are a good excuse to draw a line and leave them behind.

Meanwhile, we’re getting on with things – but things are not getting on with us.

We’ve spent months and months getting our house ready. Finishing off the painting (a gargantuan project that felt like it would never end), planting flowers, pulling weeds, arranging furniture, hanging pictures, sweeping, pruning and on and on.

Finally, last weekend, we thought, “hey, this place is looking pretty schmick”.

And then:

- Hunter pulled one of the letters in her name off her bedroom wall in a fit of pique

- Her curtains fell down (perhaps that should be “fell down”, IYKWIM) and are now crushed as can be

- the kids tore the trampoline net to shreds so it’s hanging like a great mess and is unusable

- the shelf in Hunter’s room fell (I think this one really was a fall). It left four enormous drill holes in the wall from where it was attached and sent the snow globe flying, smashing and eventually embedding itself in the carpet in a trillion different pieces

- the toilet in the main bathroom started leaking from the tap

- we have an ant invasion

Seriously. All in the past week.

And I still haven’t tried on my dress that I picked up a month ago because I am freaking out that it won’t fit, but will have to bite the bullet very soon, because with just over two weeks to go it really is time to get the alterations done.

And we probably should think about writing vows some time soon.

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